US Skywatchers to Witness Uncommon Celestial Event This Week

This weekend, residents across the U.S., as well as those in Central and South America, anticipate the arrival of a striking solar spectacle: the “ring of fire” eclipse.

Allie Yang, a renowned space connoisseur and editor at National Geographic, shared insights with Fox News Digital via email about this captivating celestial event. The upcoming annular solar eclipse, known for its vivid “ring of fire,” will be visible in various Western U.S. states, including but not limited to Oregon, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Texas, along with sections of California, Idaho, Colorado, and Arizona.

While the entirety of the contiguous U.S. will experience a partial eclipse, the full dramatic visual of the solar ring will be limited to certain areas, Yang explained.

Such an eclipse transpires when the moon, slightly smaller in appearance, aligns with the sun, casting a “ring-shaped sun silhouette” to those perfectly positioned, Yang described.

Annular eclipses are not in themselves rare; however, the trajectory crossing the U.S. is less frequent. The country last witnessed this spectacular event in 2012, with the next appearance projected for 2039.

Yang emphasized the necessity of proper eye protection during these events. Common misconceptions might lead individuals to believe a partially obscured sun is less harmful, but this is misleading.

“The remaining solar crescent is intensely bright and can cause significant eye damage within moments,” she cautioned.

For safe observation, Yang suggested utilizing eclipse glasses that meet the ISO standard or alternative indirect methods such as pinhole projection.

Yet, eclipses offer more than visual marvels, Yang reminded. They create a unique, holistic experience. Observers might notice the emergence of nocturnal wildlife sounds, feel the temperature dip, or bask in the sun’s returning warmth.

Additionally, radio enthusiasts might detect shifts in radio waves caused by the eclipse’s influence on the ionosphere, affecting both radio and GPS transmissions, she added.

From a scientific perspective, the eclipse provides a valuable research opportunity. Yang elaborated on plans to deploy rockets and balloons to assess atmospheric alterations in temperature, pressure, and ionization levels.

“This research will build a knowledge base for future studies, particularly for the anticipated total eclipse on April 8, 2024,” she concluded.